Where a picture’s worth a thousand woofs!

Thunderstorm Update October 25, 2007

Filed under: My dogs,Pit Bull,Pit mix,Thunderstorm Anxiety — photohound @ 2:50 pm

As we close out the extended Florida summer, I figured I’d update anyone who probably doesn’t care on Maya’s thunderstorm anxiety. We broke down and brought in an animal behaviorist from U of F Veterinary School (my once-to-be alma mater until I realized I hate math) whom I had met a couple years ago at an event. Dr. Curtis is extremely nice, knowledgeable and has provided much insight into Maya’s “issues”. We brought her out here for a consultation and have been corresponding via email and the Target pharmacy ever since.

In keeping with tradition, there was no immediate solution for the ol’ “My” as I call her- amongst other things, depending on my mood and what she’s destroyed. Her first batch of drugs, at the maximum doses worked like a piece of craft glitter might work to freshen your breath. I started to become depressed at the amount of money spent on hiring a dog therapist.


We started doing mild exercises with her aggression and general craziness resulting in slow (VERY slow) progress but noticeable things nonetheless. Here’s a tip for dogs that go CRAZY when you have visitors. Maya for instance will bark and jump up on you (but never snapping or biting) scaring the pants off anyone who we invite into the house. Even when pronouncing her utmost joy at your arrival, her voicebox sounds like you’re about to get eaten, she can’t help it but it’s disconcerting to the newcomer. And if you’re mildly cautious about dogs, then forget it- she takes total advantage of the fact that you know she could have been one of Michael Vick’s “pet” projects.

The behaviorist suggested that each time someone comes over, we put Maya on a leash and walk her outside to greet the visitor. Then we all walk in together like a family returning from a joyous picnic. What do you know, it freakin’ worked! Now, I take absolute pleasure in bribing my friends to come over with the guise that I have cupcakes, later telling them they are actually part of my master plan to cure my dog of her demons. Luckily, I have pretty swell friends who now call before they pull up in the driveway and wait patiently for Maya & I to go greet them. There is no more knocking on doors and creating a circus and (using Andy Rooney’s voice) I Like That.


Oh yeah, the storms. Maya is now on a Hollywood House-Wife cocktail of Prozac and Clonazepam that makes me understand why we are a nation addicted to prescriptions. It’s working and the fact that one of those is on the $4 prescription list at Target just makes me want to run through the streets throwing confetti.

Prozac is Maya’s daily regimen.  The Clonazepam gets dipped in peanut butter whenever it may rain and will henceforth be used every day next summer, believe you me.  Clonazepam is used to treat a wide range of afflictions from seizures to manic episodes to schizophrenia so if Maya ever gets diagnosed with anything else, I’m sure this ol’ pill will take care of that too. Importantly though, IT SEEMS TO BE WORKING!!! A calm Maya sitting still, watching the rain without panting, pacing or acting ridiculous was a sight my husband and I are still catching our breath over. Woo hoo!! We don’t like solving issues with drugs but when you have exhausted everything else and may possibly have a few shreds of sanity left to make a decision, that’s what you decide. In this case, we are all content for the time being and are nervously looking around each time we see a cloud hoping things still work like they’re supposed to.


Congratulations Maya- you are a champ!


Luke – 2008 SPCA Calendar July June 20, 2007

I really enjoyed playing with Luke because I felt like I was playing with my own dog, Maya. Luke is a pit mix, like mine. Black, like mine. However, Luke is much better behaved, well-mannered and a boy. Luke’s Mom and I sat out in the neighborhood park for a couple hours. Luke chased lizards, chased toys, read the morning news in the breeze and tried to sneak a game of tug WHEREVER an opportunity presented itself (the photographer’s sweaty washcloth, the photographer’s lens cloth, the photographers plastic cover sheet) and it was hysterical because he was always trying to plot his next tug operation like we didn’t know what was going on- ha ha!
Tug-of-war is not encouraged by his parents and I want to take a moment and APPLAUD them for giving the breed a chance and a great home. I am a bully breed owner and mine came with a slew of problems (see thunderstorm anxiety and any other stereotypical pit frustration) but I wouldn’t give her up for the world and I’m obsessively responsible regarding her interactions with other animals/people.
When you have a great dog like Luke that can act as an example as how wonderful and sweet the breed can be (he LOVES giving kisses) I hand it to the owners for spreading the word. I want to see more Lukes! Anyway, I had tons of fun with Luke while noticing the similar endearing mannerisms that he shares with my own little girl (tilting his head back to enjoy the breeze, taking toys apart in the same meticulous way, and moments of deep thought on a quiet morning outdoors.)


Happy Mother’s Day May 15, 2007

Filed under: My dogs,Thunderstorm Anxiety — photohound @ 11:52 pm

The first hardware casualty of the season occurred just in time for Mother’s Day. “Oh, you shouldn’t have…” I told you I’d share some pictures so here’s the most recent. The stinky thing is that once there’s a hole in the door, our boxer goes inside and basically makes a buffet out of things. On this particular day he chewed the end of an extra ethernet cable. Don’t panic, it wasn’t plugged in or anything, but now it never will be because one end is mangled.

Keep in mind that the photos you see don’t even reflect Maya’s best work. We don’t have any pictures of that occassion because it was at a point where we actually had hope it would stop. Now that we know it will just keep happening (she’s even on a new anti-anxiety medication) we can find the patience and humor to photograph. hee hee.

However, this is a serious issue and if anyone has any suggestions for making it easier on her during t-storms we have our ears completely open. She hurts hurself when she does this (you can see the “Manson” marks all over the rest of the door). Although it’s not a serious injury, having your gums bleed on top of being completely frightened cannot be a pleasant.

She ups her meds to a higher dose next week, so I’ll let you know how that goes.

On a lighter note, I have to share this pic of her in her favorite spot: the laundry basket. She gets into her “Exalted Fetus” pose- a yoga position she made up- and has a good ol’ time dreaming away. A pitiful bull if you ask me :-). This was in the middle of the afternoon and I hardly even had any laundry to pad it (which is miraculous in itself). I suppose she just likes being held together. Don’t we all, sometimes?


Summer is not a vacation April 24, 2007

Filed under: My dogs,Thunderstorm Anxiety — photohound @ 8:12 pm


Much unlike other people who view the approaching summer season with glee, we here at the Dysfunctional Home for Wayward Dogs see the season a little differently. Because, unlike other people who are planning exotic vacations and hanging up their wetsuits, we find ourselves taking weekly trips to Home Depot in preparation for what we know will be 3-4 months of hell and home improvements. You know, just to get ideas on how to protect ourselves and our home.

I’m not talking about hurricane season. Please, that’s what last-minute Home Depot trips are for- everyone in Florida knows that. I’m talking about the afternoon showers that grace our great state from June – August. These are hurricanes for us. Inside our house. Everyday.

Yeah, our dog, Maya has severe thunderstorm anxiety. She also has severe determination to accomplish tasks she sets out to do (you should see her meticulously unstuff her toys.) Mix that with bully-breed strength and a string of neuroses, and you’ve got a monster that makes Marley & Me sound like a dog that’d be perfect for your 90lb grandmother. (I loved Marley & Me, by the way. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend!)

We’ve tried drugs, pheremones, crates, behavior modification (read: denial), etc. What has seemed to work is just cleaning up the mess and letting the weekly trash pick-up act as therapy. Maya’s version of therapy falls under the category of doors. Bedroom, bathroom, office, front, side, porch- she’s not too picky. We stopped counting at 11. I stopped sending emails to friends at six. Old news, they say, but “damn I can’t believe she can do that!” What she’s trying to get to we have no idea. Maybe us (as this happens when we’re unfortunately not home when the sprinkles start.) Either way, we’ve spent more money on this rented apartment then we’d certainly cared or intended to. Home Depot is my fair weather friend and I don’t like it. I actually hate home improvement stores. I’d probably love them if we were remodeling a hipster fixer-upper bungalow, but who has money for that when you have dogs with mental problems? I’ll talk about my other dog at a later date, I only have so much energy. I know exactly where the doors, glass panes, etc. are in that dogforsaken store. New doors, new trim, paint, you name it. She turns it all into cypress mulch.

Several months ago she learned how to smash the jalousie glass panes that lead to our porch…which leads to the latticed gate…which leads to…the world. This is not good. She is very sweet unless you are another animal or a human she may not decide to like- I rescued her for $20 from a trailer in Mims and she was the only one without her ears chewed off- you get the breeding picture. So, Maya running around the neighborhood is not a good thing. We are overly-responsible and hyper-paranoid dog owners. (We also like lots of hyphens.) Therefore, when she tore a hole in the fence after smashing through the glass, some angel above decided it was not the time for Maya to bring home a subpeona. Thank Dog! Right now, we shut all doors to the outside world and if a storm comes, it usually passes by the time she is finished wood-chipping. In case that’s not enough we stack an ironing board and a step ladder against the jalousie door (which, by the way has been replaced 3 times). We also put furniture on the couch when we leave so she doesn’t lay all over it (more on other dog-proofing your home methods at a later date.) We priced plexi-glass at the ol’ Depot the other day and are pondering purchasing her a cape. Ha ha, Super Maya to the non-rescue! I’ll keep you all updated on that one.

Until then we smile nervously as we leave for work in the morning, get our own t-storm anxiety when we notice a single cloud forming in a clear blue sky, and hopefully get filled with joy when we come home and she hasn’t started another home-improvement project.

p.s. I will post a picture and/or silly video when I get those things scanned (I still shoot film) so you can get a taste (or smell) of freshly chipped wood.